As part of a new campaign to stop new HIV infections among children and ensure access to treatment, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) is working with Senegalese rap artist Samba Peuzzi to mobilise young people in West and Central Africa in the fight to end AIDS.
The campaign will spread the word that HIV is preventable and treatable as well as encourage young people to get tested for HIV.
This was contained in a statement issued by the UNAIDS West and Central Africa Regional Office to coincide with the International Day of the African Child.
The statement said “Only three out of 10 children living with HIV are on treatment and more than 100 children die every day of AIDS-related illnesses in West and Central Africa. In 2020, 39,000 children and adolescents aged 0-14 died of AIDS—that represents 39% of AIDS-related deaths globally in this age group.”
It added that “In 2020, only around half of all pregnant women living with HIV in West and Central Africa had access to treatment to prevent transmitting the virus to their children compared to 95 per cent in Eastern and Southern Africa.
Of all new HIV infections among children in the world, 36 per cent occur in West and Central Africa. West and Central Africa also have the lowest rate of newborn screening for HIV.”
“Access to HIV testing and treatment remains inequitable across the continent. And the most unfair of all is that children in our region are dying. HIV among children can be prevented and if children and young people get tested for HIV, they can get the life-saving treatment they need. We must do better!” said Samba Peuzzi.
The statement also mentioned that “Stopping children being born with HIV is possible. Ensuring that a young woman living with HIV has access to antiretroviral medicines throughout her pregnancy, during birth and throughout breastfeeding will stop the HIV virus from being passed to her child. It will also keep her alive and well and prevent any onward transmission of the virus.”
It said, “To bring young people’s attention to the danger of HIV and of HIV transmission to their children and sexual partners, UNAIDS, Samba Peuzzi and a number of other local partners are running a month-long awareness campaign to be screened on Trace Senegal TV and radio as well as on social media channels.”
It quoted Patrick Brenny, UNAIDS Regional Director for West and Central Africa as saying “We must act now, decisively and urgently, to make the next generation AIDS-free.
That can only happen by getting young people involved in HIV prevention, testing, and treatment.”
He added that “Samba Peuzzi has a wide-reaching audience and his visibility and respect among young people will motivate them to learn more about how to end AIDS and get them actively involved in the fight against HIV. We will only win if young people are on board.”